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Homeschooling With Preschoolers

A few of you have emailed or commented and asked how I wrangle handle preschoolers while homeschooling older children.

Here a few of the things I do. There are probably 101 variations for each of these ideas, and they are by no means the only things appropriate for preschoolers.

This is an empty egg carton that I have numbered. I set out a bowl of dried beans and the compartments can be filled with the corresponding number of beans.  This is a self directed activity the kindergartener does while the 3 year old and the 1 year old play at the kitchen sink.

I don’t have a photo of that, but just imagine water and bubbles everywhere with a hefty dose of giggling, and you’ve got the picture.

Here the second grader is practicing her oral reading and keeping some little girls busy while I work with the big kids.

Here are the 3 and 5 year old playing with the doll house while I do math with the second grader.

These are just a few of the things I do when homeschooling with preschoolers in the house. I like to vary the activities when they get bored with them. We also use puzzles, train tracks, coloring books, and of course baby dolls.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

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Comments

  1. Allyson Kellner says:

    Ok, I laughed out loud when you mentioned your kids in the sink! I've got a toddler who loves to play in the sink too. I guess it's worth the extra towels I have to wash!

  2. heather@it'stwinsanity says:

    My kids love the sink too but the twins get out of hand when allowed to be near water. I would love to hear more tips though! I am always struggling to entertain the littles while we do lessons.

  3. I am blessed! says:

    I never thought of purposefully letting my 1 yr old play in the sink. I'm sure she'd love it. I just go around pulling her out of all the toilets! My kids are so uncoordinated, though, she'd probably fall off the stool.

    So what noise level is satisfactory while you're working with the older kids? Do you do read-aloud time? I feel like I'm hushing children all day.

    • When I do water work with my 3 YO, I put water in a small tub (the ones you get at the hospital are perfect) and add a few measuring cups and measuring spoons. I put that on the floor on top of a beach towel or two. No falling off stools. No unauthorized access to more water. Towels keep the water mess on the floor to a minimum and I can place this set up closer to where we are schooling than the sink is.

  4. Smockity Frocks says:

    Blessed,
    Our noise level is pretty constantly high. It occasionally bothers the older kids and they have to go find a quiet place to work. The only time I require silence is during the timed math facts tests (one minute) and nap time.

    I do read aloud and just have to work around the baby babbling. If she gets too out of control, we put her in her bed. She's learning when to be quiet.

  5. Is there a reason the egg carton lacks an "8?"

  6. Smockity Frocks says:

    EllaJac,
    We do not believe in the number 8.

    Actually, I wish the explanation made that much sense. The truth is my half-heimers must have been acting up the day I made that and I left it out.

    My husband called me from work today to ask, "Uuuummmmm, where's 8?"

  7. Elizabeth says:

    one of my favorite activities that I used a lot with my two sets of twins (16 months apart) was let them play with/in and paint with cornstarch and water. it would get messy but it's easy cleanup they loved it. sometimes i would put in in a pan and add a couple drops of food coloring and let them mix the colors. they were usually outside for this and i would hose them down but it can work in the bathtub.

  8. Karin Katherine says:

    Entertaining the little ones is the hardest part of my day—but you are so right. There is something about a tub of water and soap that keeps littles entertained!

  9. Fantastic ideas! My preschooler is coming home to me from his dad's house across the country and I can't wait to use a couple of these. He'd love the bean counting and cornstarch paint!

  10. I am considering homeschooling and I was wondering what a good "starting out" resource activitiy/lessons book might be? My son is 3 now, and I was thinking of starting some simple preschool activities to try out the homeschooling to see if I could do it or liked it myself. ALSO-how do you do it? Do you do all the lessons at one time, or do you spread it throughout the day? Just wondering, thanks!!!!!

  11. Smockity Frocks says:

    Miche,
    For preschool we are VERY informal. Lots of reading and talking and helping Mama cook and clean. As we go through the day, we might count the potatoes as they are being peeled, or the cans as we put them in the pantry. I point out letters at the grocery store and say the sounds they make. We sing the days of the week as we drive in the car.

    I don't do a formal curriculum, just incorporate learning into every day activities.

  12. Thank you for the egg carton idea! We have been counting beans but only from dish to dish lol. I actually have some egg carton flats that I was saving for something but I just didn't know what, now I do! My 5 year old will love this and maybe the triplets (age 2) can pretend they are counting with some popcorn and their own cartons.

  13. I have little ones that love to play in the sink. I am not a full time homeschooler but would love to be. I love the egg carton idea and will try it just to help with counting. I have 6 and my boys have attended public school all their life. This year we are doing dual enrollment and easing into it. Great ideas. Congrats on the new addtion.

  14. Hmmm… Your toddlers play… without you? My firstborn “Chicklet” does not understand the concept of playing with anyone but me. So she follows me around like a lost puppy trying to entice me to play with her. For some reason she doesn’t get playing with her brother and seems incapable of playing by herself. For now it’s not really a problem, but it was when “Bug” was a baby because I never got a moment’s peace to interact one on one with the poor baby boy. Now I just play with both of them and then when Bug naps, Chicklet does chores with me. She thinks we’re playing house or something and I get to train a willing helper. Win/win right? Except when I’m napping and she’s coloring beside my bed, the only thing she seems to be able to do without company, then I occasionally wake up to find that not only the coloring books have been decorated, but there’s a new mural on the bedroom wall, complete with some random letters of the alphabet and a peacock or two. *sigh* What can you do though when the oldest is 3 1/2 and the mama is pregnant and exhausted? :( I can’t let her wander the house while I’m asleep, and she’s been refusing to nap (or trying to against my most clever and strict plans and schedules) since before she was 2. For now, it sort of works. Minus a few dozen Magic Erasers… But then again when the bun in the oven is born I fear I might have a problem.

  15. I have a 3 boys. But my youngest is to little for school yet. Coloring pages etc.. really don’t keep him occupied when I have to help my older children with lessons. Any suggestions for keepin a little boy busy while mom helps the others?

    • Me too, Sara! I have three boys. My youngest one is almost 3 and will play with Legos or his block train for about…3 minutes each. Then it’s back to wandering around bothering his brothers…

  16. I recently ran across this and thought it was a great idea. So we tried it out. Instead of beans, my little one has decided colored macaroni works best. Yes, if we can add color or sparkle to something we will.

  17. I’m sharing a similar post next week (I have a two year old son). May I share this post by linking back to you?

  18. My 2 yr old daughter & 3 yr old son LOVE LOVE LOVE to play in the sink. I have always let them pkay with the water running. No prblems yet. They also enjoy poring beans from bowl to bowl. I tried the water in a bowl on a blanket, but it went wrong. lol The water sure us a big help on school days. My 4 other boys get the attention they need. Thanks for being such s great help to us!

  19. How do you set up your three and one year old to play in the kitchen sink? I would love details to envision if it can work for me.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] ending this coming Monday, November 9th! For more ideas on keeping toddlers busy:Raising OlivesSmockity FrocksToo Many Kids in the BathtubandMiscellaneous Musings of a 5x Mom(whom I am indebted to for compiling [...]

  2. [...] I don’t spend a lot of time stressing them out with loads of paper work. I always have lined paper, crayons, glue, and scissors available and they are constantly creating on their own.  They also have train tracks, dolls, a doll house, bikes and trikes, a trampoline, and plenty of books to look at.  (See my post on “Homeschooling With Preschoolers“.) [...]

  3. [...] Homeschooling With Preschoolers [...]

  4. [...] up later Some days are just like that. For more ideas on keeping toddlers busy: Raising Olives Smockity Frocks Too Many Kids in the Bathtub and Miscellaneous Musings of a 5x Mom (whom I am indebted to for [...]

  5. [...] have written a few suggestions for homeschooling with preschoolers, and Preschoolers and Peace is a nifty place to find ideas on what to do with the little [...]

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